« ZurückWeiter »
done, lest the world should not know it, his own mouth is his trumpet to proclaim it. With the superfluity of his usury he builds an hospital, and harbours them whom his extortion hath spoiled ; so when he makes many beggars, he keeps some. He turneth all gnats into camels, and cares not to undo the world for a circumstance. He abhors more not to uncover at the name of Jesus than to swear by the name of God. When a rhymer reads his poem to him, he begs a copy, and persuades the press. There is nothing that he dislikes in presence, that in absence he censures not. He comes to the sick-bed of his step-mother and weeps, when he secretly fears her recovery. He greets his friend in the street with a clear countenance, so fast a closure, that the other thinks he reads his heart in his face; and shakes hands with an indefinite invitation of—When will you come ? and when his back is turned, joys that he is so well rid of a guest ; yet if that guest visit him unfeared, he counterfeits a smiling welcome, and excuses his cheer, when closely he frowns on his wife for too much. He shews well, and says well, and himself is the worst thing he hath. In brief, he is the stranger's saint, the neighbour's disease, the blot of goodness, a rotten stick in a dark night, the poppy in a cornfield, an illtempered candle with a great snuff, that in going out smells ill; an angel abroad, a devil at home; and worse when an angel than when a devil.
THOMAS HOBBES; 1588-1679.
Hobbes is celebrated as our first great writer on political philosophy. He
wrote a number of works designed to curb the spirit of freedom of England, by shewing the philosophical foundation of despotic monarchy. The chief of these are Leviathan and the Treatise on Human Nature.
NECESSITY OF PRECISION IN USING LANGUAGE.
From Leviathan. Seeing that truth consisteth in the right ordering of names in our affirmations, a man that seeketh precise truth had need to remember what every name he useth stands for, and to place it accordingly, or else he will find himself entangled in words as a bird in line twigs—the more he struggles the more belimed. And therefore in geometry, which is the only science that it hath pleased God hitherto to bestow on mankind, men begin at settling the significations of their words ; which settling of significations they call definitions, and place them in the beginning of their reckoning.
By this it appears how necessary it is for any man that aspires to true knowledge to examine the definitions of former authors; and either to correct them where they are negligently set down, or to make them himself. For the errors of definitions multiply themselves according as the reckoning proceeds, and lead men into absurdities, which at last they see, but cannot avoid without reckoning anew from the beginning, in which lies the foundation of their errors. From whence it happens that they which trust to books do as they that cast up many little sums into a greater, without considering whether those little sums were rightly cast up or not; and at last, finding the error visible, and not mistrusting their first grounds, know not which way to clear themselves, but spend time in fluttering over their books, as birds that, entering by the chimney, flutter at the false light of a glass window, for want of wit to consider which way they came in. So that in the right definition of names lies the first use of speech, which is the acquisition of science, and in wrong or no definitions lies the first abuse; from which proceed all false and senseless tenets, which make those men that take their instruction from the authority of books, and not from their own meditation, to be as much below the condition of ignorant men as men endued with true science are above it. For between true science and erroneous doctrines, ignorance is in the middle. Natural sense and imagination are not subject to absurdity. Nature itself cannot err; and as men abound in copiousness of language, so they become more wise or more mad than ordinary. Nor is it possible without letters for any man to become either excellently 1 wise, or, unless his memory be hurt by disease or ill constitution of organs, excellently foolish. For words are wise men's counters—they do but reckon by them ; but they are the money of fools, that value them by the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, or a Thomas,2 or any other doctor whatsoever, if but a man.
LAUGHTER. From Treatise on Human Nature.
There is a passion that hath no name ; but the sign of it is that distortion of the countenance which we call laughter, which is always joy : but what joy, what we think, and wherein we triumph when we laugh, is not hitherto declared by any. That it consisteth in wit, or, as they call it, in the jest, experience confuteth ; for men laugh at mischances and indecencies, wherein there lieth no wit nor jest at all. And forasmuch as the same thing is no more ridiculous when it groweth stale or usual, whatsoever it be that moveth laughter, it must be new and unexpected. Men laugh often
-especially such as are greedy of applause from everything they do well—at their own actions performed never so little beyond their own expectations; as also at their own jests : and in this case it is manifest that the passion of laughter proceedeth from a sudden conception of some ability in himself that laugheth. Also, men laugh at the infirmities of others, by comparison wherewith their own abilities are set off and illustrated. Also men laugh at jests, the wit whereof always consisteth in the elegant discovering and conveying to our minds some absurdity of another; and in this case also the passion of laughter proceeded from the sudden imagination of our own odds and eminency; for what is else the recommending of ourselves to our own good opinion, by comparison with another man's infirmity or absurdity ? For when a jest is broken upon ourselves, or friends, of whose dishonour we participate, we never laugh thereat. I may therefore conclude, that the passion of laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from a sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly; for men laugh at the follies of themselves past, when they come suddenly to remembrance, except they bring with them any present dishonour. It is no wonder, therefore, that men take heinously to be laughed at or derided ; that is, triumphed over. Laughing without offence, must be at absurdities and infirmities abstracted from persons, and when all the company may laugh together; for laughing to one's self putteth all the rest into jealousy and examination of themselves. Besides, it is vain glory, and an argument of little worth, to think the infirmity of another sufficient matter for his triumph.
JEREMY TAYLOR: 1613-1667.
Jeremy Taylor is one of the most admired English writers, especially in
the department of theology. From his devotion to the monarchy and the church, he was obliged to live in obscurity during the time of the Commonwealth, after which he was raised by Charles [I. to the bishoprics of Down and Connor, and of Dromore. His principal works are, The Liberty of Prophesying (Preaching), remarkable as the first avowed defence of religious toleration; Holy Living and Holy Dying; The Life of Christ; The Golden Grove, a manual of devotion; and his Sermons.
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT. From his Sermons.
Even you and I, and all the world, kings and priests, nobles and learned, the crafty and the easy, the wise and the foolish, the rich and the poor, the prevailing tyrant and the oppressed party, shall all appear to receive their symbol; and this is so far from abating anything of its terror and our dear concernment, that it much increases it. For although concerning precepts and discourses we are apt to neglect in particular what is recommended in general, and in incidences of mortality and sad events, the singularity of the chance heightens the apprehension of the evil, yet it is so by accident, and only in regard of our imperfection; it being an effect of self-love, or some little creeping envy, which adheres too often to the unfortunate and miserable; or being apprehended to be in a rare case, and a singular unworthiness in him who is afflicted otherwise than is common to the sons of men, companions of his sin, and brethren of his nature, and partners of his usual accidents; yet in final and extreme events, the multitude of sufferers does not lessen, but increase the sufferings ; and when the first day of judgment happened-that, I mean, of the universal deluge of waters upon the old world—the calamity swelled like the flood, and every man saw his friend perish, and the neighbours of his dwelling, and the relatives of his house, and the sharers of his joys, and yesterday's bride, and the new-born heir, the priest of the family, and the honour of the kindred, all dying or dead, drenched in water and the divine vengeance; and then they had no place to filee unto, no man cared for their souls ; they had none to go unto for counsel, no sanctuary high enough to keep them from the vengeance that rained down from heaven ; and so it shall be at the day of judgment, when that world and this, and all that shall be born hereafter, shall pass through the same Red Sea, and be all baptised with the same fire, and be involved in the same cloud, in which shall be thunderings and terrors infinite. Every man's fear shall be increased by his neighbour's shrieks, and the amazement that all the world shall be in, shall unite as the sparks of a raging furnace into a globe of fire, and roll upon its own principle, and increase by direct appearances and intolerable reflections. He that stands in a churchyard in the time of a great plague, and hears the passing bell perpetually telling the sad stories of death, and sees crowds of infected bodies pressing to their graves, and others sick and tremulous, and death dressed up in all the images of sorrow round about him, is not supported in his spirit by the variety of his sorrow; and at dooms-day, when the terrors are universal, besides that it is in itself so much greater, because it can affright the whole world, it is also made greater by communication and a sorrowful influence ; grief being then strongly infectious, when there is no variety of state, but an entire kingdom of fear; and amazement is the king of all our passions, and all the world its subjects. And that shriek must needs be terrible, when millions of men and women, at the same instant, shall fearfully cry out, and the noise shall mingle with the trumpet of the archangel, with the thunders of the dying and groaning heavens, and the crack of the dissolving world, when the whole fabric of nature shall shake into dissolution and eternal ashes!
Consider what an infinite multitude of angels, and men, and women, shall then appear! It is a huge assembly when the men of one kingdom, the men of one age in a single province are gathered together into heaps and confusion of disorder ; but then, all kingdoms of all ages, all the armies that ever mustered, all that world that Augustus Cæsar taxed, all those hundreds of millions that were slain in all the Roman wars, from Numa's time till Italy was broken into principalities and small exarchates : all these, and all that can come into numbers, and that did descend from the loins of Adam, shall at once be represented ; to which account, if we add the armies of heaven, the nine orders of blessed spirits, and the infinite numbers in every order, we may suppose the numbers fit to express the majesty of that God, and the terror of that Judge, who is the Lord and Father of all that unimaginable multitude !....